Sunday, June 26, 2005

Strange Street Names

Before we arrived in Abu, we were given an address for DD to write her exams. The "address" was : The Pink 501 Building, next to the Modern Bakery with the plants on the sidewalk! That sounded a bit bizzare, but when we arrived, we asked the taxi driver to take us to the ... nudge, nudge ... Pink 501 Building, next to the Modern Bakery ... with ... giggle, snort, cough ..... plants on the sidewalk ... and within 5 minutes, we were exactly where we wanted to be!!

There are a number of problems with using actual street names here :
Firstly, each main street has at two, three or even four names - (1) The original name given to the street (2) The new official name - usually in honour of some wellknown person (3) The road number corresponding to the street name and (4) The common, everyday name used most often - usually describing where the road comes from or goes to, for example "Airport Road" is officially known as Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed the Second Road, and used to be known as East Road, and has a number as well!! The common name often reflects the type of shops on that street, so you get Embassy Street, Electra Street (for electrical appliance shops) and so on.

Then there is the problem that every block which is bordered by main streets, has the same numbers, so if you are looking for 2nd Street, you could literally pass dozens of "2nd Streets" and be on pension before you find the one you are looking for. Usually when looking for a smaller street, you start by using the main street name, followed by the small street's number - this helps get you in the general vicinity.

The streets that are named after Sheikhs, can get very confusing when you are not sure if you are looking for Sheikh Hamad bin Rashid Al Maktoum the First Street or Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayad Al Nahyan the Second Street - by the time you have finished reading the street sign, you are way past that street on onto another Sheikh's street!! And forget about asking the cops - we stopped and asked a group of three cops for directions and each pointed in a completely different way and babbled directions like : "Cross Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan the First Street and drive until the Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi Bridge and then turn into His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani Circle ... " etc, etc. Our heads were spinning and we spent the next hour spinning around Dubai's streets in ever-decreasing circles, until we finally - completely by accident - finally found what we were looking for!

These are the instructions I got on how to make sense of the street names - see if YOU can understand them - I couldn't!!

Along the top of the "T" runs the Corniche (Street 1) which is the side of the island furtherest from the mainland. Streets running parallel to the Corniche all have odd numbers, so the next is Street 3 (Khalifa), then 5 (Hamdan), then 7 (Zayed or "Electra") and so on down into the 30's at the bottom of the "T".

Running vertically down the middle of the "T" is Airport Road (Street 2). Roads running parallel to Airport to the right have even numbers, so the next is Street 4 (old Airport Road), Street 6 and so on. To the left of Airport Road running parallel is Street 24 (Karama), Street 26, etc.

Which explains why everyone here has a postbox and post is seldom delivered to your home. Can you imagine an envelope addressed to :

Mrs Smith
123 Big White Building with blue windows
Next to the park where we had a picnic last summer
Just beyond the tree where the pigeons have built a big nest
Abu Dhabi
Postman Pat (Postman Ali, more likely!) would really have to know his route well!!

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